Finding the balance between long-term brand advertising strategies and short-term direct response marketing tactics should be at the forefront of any marketing action plan, but it’s surprising how many people get accustomed to focusing on one or the other.
With the advertiser end goal of driving sales increasingly sandwiched between a sea of products, solutions and techniques, it’s easy to see how brands can be pulled and pushed in many ways - causing confusion and focus in the wrong areas.
Brand building has to be paramount and the upshot is, in order to survive in a mobile, digital and social era, it can no longer be about short-term conversions and sales only, as longer-term brand metrics, such as affinity, also have a vital role.
While direct response tactics - ‘test drive now’ or ‘click to buy’ - work, group industry director at Facebook Naomi Shepherd warns that short-term business focus should not come at the expense of long-term goals.
She sees that brands are waking up to the benefits of using social media for long-term brand building - citing the rise of Instagram Stories in Australia, which sees one million Aussies making a story every day - which no other channel can do at such scale.
“Yes, there's a risk of platforms like Facebook and Instagram and other mobile channels being seen as a really highly targeted short-term conversion channel,” Shepherd said.
“Yes, we can do all of those things but ultimately, I think if marketers are only focused on that aspect, then they could seriously be missing out on a big opportunity that’s not just about converting customers at the bottom of the funnel.
“There is a huge long-term branding opportunity,” Shepherd said.
A Building Brands in the Digital Age report by Deloitte, commissioned by Facebook Australia, showed that businesses which focus on long-term metrics are 1.3 times more likely to experience an improvement in their brand performance than companies which only measure short-term sales.
Despite the importance of brand building and its clear value to a business, the study also found that only 17% of more than 300 Australian marketers surveyed see brand as their most important objective.
This number should ring alarm bells for any marketer not working towards this, as failing to recognise the importance of brand comes at a cost.
The Deloitte study also found that businesses whose brands stagnated over the past year also saw their revenues fall by 13% on average over this period.
“If you're not investing in your brand, which holds a tremendous amount of value on your company's balance sheet, that's ultimately at the detriment of your long-term success,” Shepherd said.
Shepherd also stressed that a brand is not built in one campaign, nor is its impact seen immediately - and that there's no one channel that's going to build a brand today.
“That’s just simply not going to happen,” she said.
“No one piles all their money into social. No one is piling all their money into TV or out of home. It's the optimal mix of many of them and usually the magic number that we're finding is four different channels.”
Shepherd said if you're investing in brand, everyone in the organisation needs to be on board and it’s not just the role of the CMO - as everyone is responsible. In addition to this, she said there's also a new toolkit you need to be a marketer today to be talking to consumers.
“It's about finding what's a good mix and that's something that has to be ultimately decided by the brand in conjunction with a number of different partners. There is no magic formula,” she said.
Facebook understands the old bit of brand building, but it also understands the new bit – adding that companies like Facebook and Instagram are “absolutely at the forefront” of the way consumers these days are behaving – which Shepherd said offers a unique partnership to brand marketers.
“We get the principles of brand building. We're deeply devoted to them but equally, we consider ourselves well and truly ahead of the curve in the way that consumers are behaving, and I think that's a very powerful partnership that we can create.”
Building Brands in the Digital Age report top findings:
- Four in five marketing professionals believe new technologies will drive change in their marketing strategy in the next five years.
- Two in three marketing managers believe that digital and social media are the best channels for building a brand.
- Digital marketing and social media marketing are the only two mediums that marketers expect to spend a higher proportion of their budget on over the next two years.
- Almost two in five marketing managers think that social media is the most effective medium for building customer engagement.
Who: L’Oréal Australia & New Zealand
Challenge: L’Oréal wanted to connect with women aged 25–54 to boost brand awareness and brand preference, and increase sales of La Roche-Posay Toleriane.
Action: The skincare range for sensitive skin used Canvas and video ads on Facebook and Instagram to boost awareness and drive sales
Results: L’Oréal’s data partner IRI analysed the sales impact, measuring that over three months the campaign reached 2.1 million people across Facebook and Instagram; delivered a 10-point lift in ad recall, and generated a 16% increase in product sales.
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